When the purple wave of Lehi fans converged on the Dee Events Center Saturday night to watch their basketball team vie for the 3A championship, the majority of them were carrying posters with the number "3" on it.
Three was the only number anybody from Lehi was talking about as they left Ogden as well. Three as in a three-peat of 3A championships.Accomplishing a rare feat, the top-ranked Pioneers won their third title in a row by beating Emery 60-51. No other team in Utah has done that since Enterprise's string of three between 1986-88.
Lehi senior Braden Cooper said he and his basketball buddies have talked about winning a championship their senior season since the seventh grade. And he made sure their dream came true by scoring a game-high 19 points, including three 3-pointers.
"It's an accomplishment that only a handful of kids in America get to live," Cooper said. "To win three is incredible."
Cooper led the way early on as he scored 13 points with three 3-pointers in the opening half as Lehi took a 25-22 lead. Senior Mike Christofferson, last year's Deseret News 3A MVP, scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half when the Pioneers pulled away.
"Those two guys just refuse to lose," said Filimoehala.
Senior Andy Hadfield was also a key part of the championship win. He hit four baseline jumpers at opportune times to boost Lehi. Hadfield finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
And, though he only scored six points, senior center Travis Colledge was a big contributor, too, by hauling in 16 rebounds.
The Pioneers' sticky man-on-man forced the Spartans into missing their first nine shots and shooting just 34 percent (17 of 50) for the game.
"I think the key was our defense," Filimoehala said. "The pressure finally got to them."
Matt Nelson led Emery (16-7) with 16 points.
The Pioneers, who won their school's 11th basketball championship, ended the season at 21-3.
In the consolation games:
UINTAH 80, BEAR RIVER 77: Cory Kebert scored 22 points and hauled in 10 rebounds to guide the Utes (16-8) to a third-place finish.
PINE VIEW 56, DIXIE 50: The Panthers (18-6) beat the Flyers (18-6) for the third time this season to claim fifth place in state.